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 General Information on Municipal Solid Waste

The United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines municipal solid waste as ordinary items that businesses and individuals use and then dispose of. Some examples include product packaging, grass and yard clippings, unwanted clothing, glass and plastic bottles, uneaten or spoiled food scraps, newspapers and magazines, unwanted or broken furniture, home or offices appliances, leftover paint, and empty batteries. All of these items, and many more, are frequently consumed in our businesses, schools, hospitals and homes.

People working and living in the United States generated almost two hundred and fifty million tons of material waste in 2010. Of that total amount, only eighty five million tons, or thirty four percent, was waste recycled or reused. On average, Americans recycle only one and one half pounds of waste they individually generate out of the four and a half pounds of waste they generate daily per person. That’s an individual recycling rate of slightly beyond twenty five percent.

The Environmental Protection Agency urges all businesses, municipalities, households and individuals to adopt daily habits and practices that reduce or eliminate the amount of waste materials generated every day through establishing activities that encourage recycling, waste prevention or reduction, and composting.

Here are a few ideas of plans implemented by businesses and municipalities concerned about their solid waste levels:

        The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation distributes funds from state-wide recycling profits each year to encourage more communities to participate in the waste recycling initiatives. The distributed money is a piece of the total profits the Resource Recovery Corporation earned through the sale of recyclable waste materials collected at the state’s recycling facility. Rhode Island's rate for recycling is twenty two percent, and the incentive of profits is designed to encourage an increase in recycling as a possible way to increase community funds and lower taxes.

        The National Restaurant Association and the United States Composting Council are working together to increase food waste recycling and composting awareness to restaurant owners and managers. The goal of this educational partnership is to persuade and educate those in the restaurant and food service industries how environmentally friendly practices concerning food material waste can help save their businesses money in garbage disposal fees.

        In comparison to other countries, the average American throws away more than ten times the food as the average person residing in Southeast Asia. Over forty percent of all edible food ends up in landfills at a cost of between one and two thousand dollars annually for a typical American household of four people. What would your household like to do with an extra thousand dollars? Pay off debt? Take a vacation? Contribute to retirement savings? When a household better manages their food buying and consumption, less goes to waste. Money is saved and less food scraps and uneaten food ends up in the landfill.

Municipal solid waste is something that every member of the community needs to be concerned about. What’s being done in your town, workplace, and home to reduce the amount of material waste thrown in the garbage? Investigating ways to repurpose, reuse, recycle, compost, donate or making smarter purchasing decisions will not only help the environment and your town, but possibly save you money every year!

 

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